Immune System Has Daily Rhythm: Mice with Jet Lag Have Boosted Supply of Inflammatory Cells
Rosen, Meghan, Science News
Jet lag goofs up more than just sleep schedules: Tinkering with the body's clock confuses the immune system too.
In mice, a type of immune cell linked to inflammation depends on daily cycles of light and dark, researchers report in the Nov. 8 Science. The finding could help explain the connection between inflammatory diseases and chronic clock disruptions, such as those experienced by frequent fliers and night shift workers.
"This has implications for all of us," says Lora Hooper, an immunologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "None of us go to sleep when the sun sets or get up when the sun rises." Soaking up artificial light when it's dark outside might predispose people to inflammatory disorders, she says.
Humans, mice and virtually all other animals keep time with circadian clocks, internal timekeepers that sync up with the sun. Researchers have tied people's clocks to sleep patterns, metabolism and mood (SN: 4/10/10,p. 22).
Hooper's team examined mice genetically engineered to lack a protein linked to both the circadian clock and to inflammatory bowel disease. …